U-CF teacher contract negotiators announce fact-finding mission
● By J. Chambless
Talks between the Unionville-Chadds
Ford School Board and the district's teachers continue to drag on
after the June 30 expiration of the current teachers' contract.
The two sides are reportedly at a sticking point, resulting in a fact-finding report being requested late last month. A release from the district negotiating team on June 23 said, “While we are still trying to work out some specific differences in contract language, the primary areas of disagreement revolve around salary and benefits. The district's position is that the current proposal on the table from the Unionville-Chadds Ford Education Association, or UCFEA, is at a total value well in excess of what is sustainable and financially viable.”
The district negotiations team includes Vic Dupuis, Gregg Lindner and Keith Knauss of the school board.
The independent and non-binding fact-finding report, organized by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, can help to crystallize both sides of a contract dispute and perhaps lead to a path toward settlement. If no compromise is reached through the fact-finding process, the report is made public by the Labor Relations Board, and negotiations continue.
A late May “Public Resource Document” posted by the school district is still on the district's website, and indicates that the UCFEA proposal “calls for total cost increases that will average 4.6 percent each year for three years.”
On June 15, the school board and administration approved a 2015-16 budget that will result in a weighted average millage increase of 2.28 percent for families in the district. That is divided into a 2.08 percent increase in Chester County and a 3.11 percent increase in Delaware County, averaging out to an additional $145 to be paid by Chester County residents this year. The district's fund balance will be depleted by $354,249.
While the budget is not directly tied to the teachers' contract, it does reflect the fiscal attitude of the board and administration. The UCFEA counters that, as one of the wealthiest school districts in the state, the contract terms could be better. The latest figures available indicate that the UCFEA is asking for three-year average salary increases of 4.05 percent each year, with three-year average total costs of compensation, including benefits, of 4.62 percent each year. The school district is countering with four-year average salary increases of 1.71 percent per year, with four-year average total costs of compensation, including benefits, of 2.13 percent per year. More current proposed figures have not been disclosed because the negotiations are ongoing.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.